Tried ice, seems to make my wrist tendonitis worse.

by Gary


I have a mild case of tendonitis in my wrist. It seems to be about 3 inches below the hand on the thumb side of the wrist where the muscle/tendons meet the bony part.

If I use my thumb a lot, or pump my forearm with blood, it gets very tight and will then hurt if I extend my thumb. I tried the ice dipping on your web site once, but it increased the feeling of tightness for a few days afterward.

So I haven't been icing or heating it, just resting/ibuprofen and regular stretching. Do you think I should give icing another go? My thumb also tingles a bit.

I'd appreciate the response.

Thank you


Joshua Answers:

Hi Gary.

Thanks for trying the Ice Dipping -and- asking questions about it.

That's a way better option than giving up and never finding out more information.


1.It sounds like the muscles/tendons/tissue are VERY TIGHT. If you can just pump the muscles a few times and have it cause that sensation of extra tightness and then pain when extending the thumb, that's a definite clue.

That could also explain the tingling in your thumb, as tight muscles step on and off the hose of the nerve(s)

2. That's an interesting response to the icing. I have some questions I'll ask below, but I'm curious whether:

your forearm had a 'bad reaction' to the ice dipping,

or it's entirely possible that the ice dipping got rid of some of the 'pain' which made you more able
to accurately feel just how tight your muscles really are.

I can't imagine ice dipping actually making things tighter, but who knows.

Get back to me with answers to the questions below, and let's get to the bottom of this and help you get out of pain.

Questions to answer

1. What do you do with your hands, work/hobby wise, that might have led up to this?

2. How long have you been hurting with this?

3. Anything else a problem in the arm/shoulder area?

4. If you poke around, is there tightness/pain more in the lower forearm area, the thumb pad, or both? (I'm guessing both)

5. Just one hand, or both?

6. When you say that you did the Ice Dipping "once", does that mean you did the 10 times for 10 seconds each in a two hour period, or you just dipped 1 time?

7. Any other symptoms or details you didn't mention in the original question?

8. Ask more questions if you have any.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Mar 22, 2009
Gary again - Tried ice, seems to make my wrist tendonitis worse. PART 2
by: Gary

Thanks for the reply.

1. I play the guitar and lift weights, not lately though. I hadn't done so for about 5 weeks before I knew I had a problem because I sprained my thumb.

I rested my hand for 5 weeks, and then started using it again and doing a few range of motion exercises, and after a few days this wrist problem seemed to spring up.

My thumb started tingling a few days after I sprained it, so I don't know if it's related to the tendonitis.

2. A little over 2 months.

3. Not that I can tell.

4. There's not really any tenderness. It feels a little tight to poke at I guess. If I prod around my forearm I'll sometimes feel a little pain in the thumb and increased tingling. If I brush a finger along my wrist it increases the tingling a bit in my thumb, although this simptom has diminished a lot.

5. Just my left hand.

6. I did it 10 times in 2 hours, but just that one day.

7. I'm not sure if this has any significance, but there's a small white blemish over the problem area on my wrist, like a scar one gets from a vaccine injection.

Thanks for your help, I look forward to your reply.


Mar 23, 2009
Joshua Answers - Tried ice, seems to make my wrist tendonitis worse. PART 3
by: The Tendonitis Expert

Joshua Answers:

Hi Gary. I'm glad you answered back.

A couple big variables here are that you sprained your thumb, and you have a history of playing guitar.

Weightlifting may or may not play a role, depending on how much you lift, and how much you hold with your grip.

Thumb Sprain

I don't know how exactly your got your sprained thumb, but I think it's safe to assume that:

A. The impact hurt, and then you continued to hurt for a long period of time, and

B. Your nervous system therefore does what it does every single time it feels pain, or -thinks- it feels kicks in a Process of Inflammation.

Inflammation makes a few things happen. It traps fluid in the area, it releases chemical which enhances your sensitivity to pain.

Ironically, this makes muscles tighten up, and feel more pain. Which makes the nervous system feel pain, which makes it continue to increase the inflammatory response.

See the pattern there?

So there's ongoing, lasting results from the temporary pain of spraining the thumb.

Playing Guitar

As you know, guitar playing is a hand and wrist intensive activity.

This means ALL the muscles of the forearm and hand are constantly, repetitively firing to move and stabilize your fingers and wrist.

Right now as I move my thumb as if I'm strumming (or whatever it's called...I don't play guitar), I can feel movement right in the area where you say you feel pain.

So things have been getting tighter over time as you live your life.

Then you sprain your thumb, the nervous system goes on high defensive alert (which always makes things go in a Downward Spiral), and, in a sense, you have crossed a threshold where your body's natural compensation strategies can't easily pull you back to a pain free state.

This is usually when we finally start realizing that we might have a problem, and start looking to see what 'injury' it could be.

Maybe you have an injury. Certainly you have muscles and connective that are WAY TOO tight, and are filled with Pain Enhancing Chemical.

And that feels like injury.

The ice dip can help make everything that is causing the Downward Spiral reverse, thus helping your body create an Upward Spiral.

1. How exactly did you sprain your thumb? Impact? Overstretch?

2. Ice Dip for a good 4-5 days. It may take several days to really notice a difference, it just depends on you and your 'injury'. Expect it to take a few days for big results, though you should feel better every day you do it.

3. Keep an eye on the tightness that you say the dipping caused. I've never seen or heard of something like that happening, so keep an eye on it.

I suspect it just helped you be more aware of just how tight your forearm is.

(Continued in Part 3.5)

Mar 23, 2009
PART 3.5 Tried ice, seems to make my wrist tendonitis worse.
by: The Tendonitis Expert

(Continued from PART 3.)

4. Might as well do both arms, two birds with one stone. The other side has it's own Downward Spiral going on.

5. For education and fun, read this story of a time I separated my thumb joint and how I iced it.

Thumb Ligament Injury

It goes to show how much benefit one can get from repetitive ice dipping.

I have yet to meet a person that hasn't gotten more-than-they-expect results when they actually do the Ice Dipping as described.

And, it's good to pay attention. If you have a concern or a question like you did, that's great.

Keep paying attention. Pain is a great learning experience, even if it's not very fun.

Let me know how exactly how you sprained the left thumb, more information is always better.

Keep me updated, ask more questions as they come up.

Oh, and keep an eye on that white blemish.

Doubtful it's anything, but keep an eye on it and try to figure out if its the kind of thing one needs to get more curious about.

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